Norman “The Gaming Historian” Caruso creates mini-documentaries on YouTube. His shows are concise, informative, and well-researched. He was kind enough to answer a few questions ahead of his appearance at Retropalooza, a video game convention in Arlington, Texas.
BRETT WEISS: When and why did you start doing mini-documentaries on video games?
NORMAN CARUSO: It was during my junior year of college. I was majoring in history while playing a lot of video games in my spare time. Eventually I got really into it and started watching shows like G4 Icons, Angry Video Game Nerd, Game Trailers, etc. There just wasn’t a lot of history content online, so I decided, “Why not make it myself?”
WEISS: Why is it important for gamers to know about the history of their favorite hobby?
CARUSO: I feel like it gives you a greater understanding. That’s important for a hobby you are passionate about. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Crichton is “If you didn't know history, you don't know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.”
WEISS: What were you doing before you began doing this full-time?
CARUSO: I was a teacher for a few years, then I moved into the IT field, mostly software support.
WEISS: What are some of the pros and cons of doing YouTube videos for a living?
CARUSO: One of the best parts is you have control of your time. One of the worst parts is you have control of your time! It’s great to have the freedom to do anything, but when you aren't working, there is always a nagging feeling in your head like “Maybe I should be working.” It’s a balancing act, but I wouldn't change it for anything.
WEISS: What are a couple of your favorite episodes that a mainstream audience might enjoy?
CARUSO: The Story of Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of my most popular. Personally, my favorite is Tengen: Atari Games vs. Nintendo. It’s a great story that had a huge impact on the video game industry.
WEISS: What is your favorite video game of all time and why? Do you enjoy any of the current consoles/games?
CARUSO: My favorite video game of all time is probably EarthBound. It has so much charm. I try to play it every year, and I still laugh at some of the moments. For current gen, I’m enjoying the Nintendo Switch a lot. My current addiction is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for the PC.
WEISS: What do you enjoy about Retropalooza?
CARUSO: It’s just a fun weekend around like-minded people. I remember attending the very first one. It was like a small swap meet in a gymnasium. Now it’s filling up the Arlington Convention Center. It’s been fun seeing it grow over these past few years.
WEISS: Why would someone want to come out to a gaming con when they can just sit at home and play games?